We picked out our Christmas tree again from the Junior Forest Wardens allotment this year. Every year they offer lodgepole pine and its quite a different tree to put up for Christmas. While we were there for a short while I could feel the longing of my soul looking forward to hiking again soon. It was too busy of a day otherwise we would've gone. There is just a little bit of snow on the ground and the temperature was quite balmy for December. I've taken a break from instagram to get a hold of my blogging and photography again. I'm so behind on so many photos and I want to begin working on some new photography.
The mountains are always my favourite thing to look at when they are covered in snow. It suits them much better than bare rock. Snow helps to outline all the details that we otherwise miss and grab our attention with the stark contrast of the white on dark grey. The past couple of months I've had a new awakening to writing and reading about the land again. It's been so long, I must say that I was rather burnt out after my master's degree and the thought of writing and researching one single word made me paralyzed. Leaving Ireland to come back to Canada was tough, finding thin places here is more difficult and the moments to contemplate are mostly interrupted by a wild toddler and crying baby. But sharing the land with people is more important, and this point in my life I am finding the value in family and community. Instead of being self-serving, I have been focusing on serving my family and surprisingly, it's brought a lot of joy. The days are calmer, and flow more smoothly, I am not as tired and have more time to invest in my evenings. Tonight I spent some time painting a scene that I photographed in Bragg Creek, the grass was just so lovely the way that it fell and the tiny kinnikinick berries give a thoughtful surprise from the stump. Once it's done I'll be posting it on the painting page.
I’m looking for my people; my tribe. The people that say, “ I will be the solution Lord.” I’m looking for people that will rise up with me and say I will be the change here. I’m passionate about so many things, I’m looking around and I’m seeing that we need massive overhaul to food systems, school systems, clothing systems and waste disposal and recycling systems.
The solution is not homesteading and homeschooling, the solution is crying out to God for innovation to hit the earth so that we can make a difference in these areas. We need to be getting on our knees for finances and favour in order to make a difference in these areas. Someone I follow recently wrote "This earth is a dumpster fire we we need to hold on until Jesus returns.” There is no scripture saying that about the earth so I refuse to believe it. I believe that as the people of God we are held to a higher standard of how the earth is stewarded. I feel like we swing in two directions, we are completely fatalistic about how the earth will burn one day, (Just so you know, the new heaven and new earth only come after Jesus has reigned for a thousand years on this earth physically. Check Revelation 20-21) or we are completely political and whine about the politics of this earth. Politics belong to satan, government belongs to God. We are the spiritual government of God on this earth. The pioneers belong to the Lord. Come and pioneer with me.
I’m at this place right now, where I feel like I’m stretching out. I don’t quite know exactly what I want or how it’s going to turn out. I just know that I can’t stay here. I can’t reside here, because it’s important to keep moving. Movement is important, and my role as a pioneer is to continue, to push ahead when it’s tough. My weaknesses have been popping up lately, and it’s making me want to crawl back into cave. This has been my normal unfortunately for many years. Disappearing when things get overwhelming. But this time, I promised myself I would keep going even if it hurts. I would get to the point that I would understand and see the people I needed to see. I would be the resource that people need. Each one of us is needed in this world, we all have value, we are all important, we all contribute in some way shape or form.
Yesterday we spent some time at the beach, way too long to be honest and I’m kind of paying for it today because the kids are tired and grumpy. I feel like this whole year I’ve been in a juggling act of trying to figure out, how to make work, how to market, how to be a mom and be present with my children, and also invest in my marriage. My toddler expressed to me today that he would like to do some schooling again soon, and I’m going how will I fit that in? How will I still have friends? Stretch, breathe, it’s complicated, but I will get there
August is barely ending and it feels like autumn is trying to rush in without giving summer it’s proper finale. Although we’ve enjoyed the cool weather it feels a bit premature to be wearing our fleeces and hats, but the drop in temperature has been nice.
I picked some white sagebrush today. It’s such a beautiful plant as it comes to maturity. One of my favourite qualities about it is that it lasts throughout the winter and dries well.
September is coming quickly and its always a good time to take a look at what is working, what needs work, what needs improvement. This summer I took up painting again and its been really nice to get back into painting after a 10 year break. I had been working my digital collages this year and really trying to get back into them. I finally felt that I had a breakthrough in how to display them in a way that was less sculptural, but still fulfilling. I applied to a gallery in Canmore because I thought that they would suit the gallery well, however the gallery refused my work on the basis that it was derived from photography. I was a bit disappointed but realized that if some place or person doesn’t want you, it really is a good thing because then you can focus on the places and people that do want you and those places and people will celebrate you in a proper way.
It also gave me a break from creating on the computer all the time. It wasn’t until I started playing with watercolours that I realized that I missed painting. While acrylic paint is quite nice, I have had reactions to some of it, oils are messy and too smelly for the apartment, but the water-colour has managed to fit in quite nicely in my life. Its quick drying, can be picked up at any time, and cleans up fast too. I’ve been inspired lately as well about how to resource others that want to paint and you can stay posted for that content too.
The very first time I encountered a thin place was in a canoe on a lake. I’ll never forget that experience. I was struck with awe while in the middle of a large lake somewhere in northern Quebec. I had never felt that way before in my 25 years, and I had never known I could feel that way. I think since that incident I’ve always been searching for thin places without really understanding what I was looking for. I had simply attributed the feeling to me being so isolated in the middle of the lake. When I reached Ireland at the age of 32 I thrust myself with gusto into learning the place, exploring the landscape. My master’s after all was questioning how environments shape us as individuals. I was blessed to be in a place that was a national park, the Burren known to many as a very special kind of landscape.
I like to think that I grew up in Ireland. Even though I had landed there in my thirties the place rugged and isolated gave me the opportunity to develop things in myself that I had not been able to living where I had been. I experienced deep healing and the finding of myself there. Its also where I became a mother for the first time. Ireland had so many things that I received there.I can’t remember the first thin place that I encountered while there, only that it kept happening. For those of you wondering what is a thin place? There are so many descriptions. The ancient Celts were a very spiritual people and described a thin place as the space where the veil between heaven and earth is thinner than most places. For sure encountering these spaces you would feel that the ancient and the present were colliding and infinite possibilities would explode. Sometimes thin places move around, some are testified to remain stable. Who really can grasp the depth of it?
Recently my work has been rolling again. I decided that the collages I had begun in Ireland should begin to be made again. With the collage work starting again something mysteriously showed up alongside it; painting. I had not painted really since 2013, as I went forward making more 3d work and installation. I had considered art school to be a place where I tried to learn as much as I could while there. Painting has shown up again and wouldn’t you know it, I’m painting the thin places that I’m finding here in the Rockies.
I consider myself wealthy, even though finances are tight. We live in a one bedroom apartment, and we have one vehicle, but I consider myself wealthy because there are things that money cannot buy. Money cannot buy you the days you spend with your children. Looking into their little faces that smile and laugh. I consider myself wealthy when I get invited to go to the beach with my friend and our kids. We spend the day there in the hot sun, eating peanut butter sandwiches we made ourselves and watching them splash in the water, knowing that if we worked full time we would miss these days and they are better to us than any vacation to any spectacular destination. I am wealthy when I go on long walks with my kids enjoying the crisp air and taking as many photographs as I can fit into the running around. I breathe in the mountain air and look out at the Rockies from where I’m standing. I’m wealthy just looking at them. I’ve had a lot of people look down on us, because financially we have not much. But, what I have with my family, I wouldn’t trade for money, because its just not worth it.
It's been so long since posting anything. Whenever I'm pregnant I'm utterly exhausted and the thought of doing anything simply is not feasible. I'm almost 7 months post partum now, so last week, I trekked down with the kiddos to a nature spot here in the foothills and was delighted that, despite not taking photos for a long time, I still have the knack. And, despite taking photos of similar subjects that I have before I had an opportunity to reframe them once again.
I just love juniper. It really photographs well and comes in a variety of colours as the seasons change. I've photographed everything from dead juniper to purple juniper and it never fails stun.
One of the tricky things about photographing here in Alberta is that the sun is so bright and the sky is so blue. I refined my photography in Ireland, so moody photos are definitely my jam. So for these photographs here, I've been experimenting with placing my body in front of the subject and playing with my shadow and some of that bright light that you see peeking in the corners.
I love the chance blurs that happen with photography. I never know how it will turn out and its so lovely
I’ve been taking the steps two at a time since as long as I can remember. In all my work places I’ve been known for being fast and efficient. This world everything seems to be getting faster and faster. After multiple burnouts, and birthing two children, I can’t do it anymore. It’s taken me a long time to just sit still. Be quiet.
The worst part is I’ve had the opportunity to train my brain to be like this. I lived in rural Ireland for four years where the passage of time is so slow it would numb you. Somehow I still managed to maintain a stressed out, rushing about vibe. I tried to continue doing this, but now with my second baby here, it’s just not manageable. All it has done is created a stressed out mom that snaps easily and struggles to regulate herself, because of all the stress I am causing myself by rushing around. I don’t want to be that mom for my kids, and I don’t want to be that person for myself. So, I’ve decided to steward the slow and embrace it. I don’t get nearly as much accomplished as I used to in the timeframe that I want, but I’m happier, and my kids are better for it. It’s been a consistent training of my brain to stop yapping at me that certain projects lie unfinished or will be gotten to later. Sometimes the best method is to write these ideas and sketch out the projects that I want so that when the time comes and it does eventually, I’m hitting the ground running instead of searching for an idea.
Lately a friend and I have been talking business. Working through several mindsets that have been holding me back. Its been good to change my thinking for the truth. I was listening to a podcast with Derrick Kinney and although I had heard the phrase adding value before for some reason it struck me in a different way. How does my art add value and how can I make it add value in the world? I know that it is valuable and that is a first step in making it forward, but how do I add value to people’s lives with it? Its been a great question to ponder, because I really want to be able to sell my artwork and make money from it. I don't want to be in this financial place that we have been for almost the past ten years. So, I’m challenging myself how to I add value to people’s lives with my artwork?
Dark and rainy days always remind me of Ireland. While I didn’t think that Ireland would stick with me as strongly as it did I like to think of it as a heritage, I feel like somehow I came of age there and stretched out my wings for the first time.
The rain brings its own enchantment whether there or here, I’m wondering where my wool slippers are hiding, wishing for a wood stove again, and thinking of what latest treat could I bake for my family. These desires are a stark contrast to the fresh lilacs on my counter and my little boy wearing his favourite shorts; pineapples and parrots on a blue background. We were just at the beach a few days ago.
Its not autumn yet, but the rain brings up some important questions that I’ve been asking myself. What is the culture I’m building with my family and what is the culture that I want to share with others? It feels like we’ve been in this transition phase of our lives for so long my husband and I. I’ve been packing recently with two intentions: 1- that hopefully we will move out of the apartment soon, and 2- giving ourselves more space as we lay some things down in our lives. With the arrival of a second child on the way comes the requirement to set some things aside for a time as we enter a new season. There is much to build still as the family grows and we change and find ourselves in hopefully a more permanent house and as we search for what’s next. But tonight, it’s still rainy and after I make tonight’s dinner of bbq meatballs with veg, I’ll make a sourdough gingerbread as an ode to the rain.